The Dutch city of The Hague on Wednesday announced plans to use geothermal heating — water from a hot well deep underground — to warm 4,000 households and several industrial buildings, as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although the idea of using underground warmth to heat homes is not new, the plan would be the largest attempted in the Netherlands and is unusual in its design.
“This geothermal energy will be transported to the district heating network through heat exchangers,” the statement said. “Via this network of pipes the energy eventually will be distributed to the houses,” which would be equipped with underfloor heating instead of a radiator.
Water of 75 degrees Celsius (170 degrees Fahrenheit) was discovered at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) in the southwest of the city.
The cost of the project is euro46 million (US$62.6 million), or euro11,500 (US$15,640) per house, but the city said inhabitants would be given a guarantee their heating bills would be equal to or less than those of people using regular heating.
The Hague city spokesman Edwin van der Post said three housing corporations, two energy companies and the city would split the costs and risks equally.
Van der Post said that, although running the pumps would require some electricity, the project would result in a net savings of 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Heat from the hot well “is inexhaustible and there is no emission of hazardous gas,” the city statement said. Once used, the water would be allowed to trickle back down into a second well.
The Hague aims to be CO2-neutral by 2050.
“This project proves that durable energy doesn’t have to be more expensive than fossil fuel,” city Alderman Marnix Norder said in a prepared statement. “I am delighted that after a period of research the project is actually getting started.”
He said the first houses would be connected by the winter of 2008/2009.
Geothermal heating has been used since ancient history, most famously by the Romans. Today major projects are established in Reykjavik, Iceland, and Boise, Idaho, while smaller projects are mushrooming due to concerns greenhouse gas emissions are worsening global warming.